Credit Reports & Credit Repair - What are the Facts!15 May Brenda Warner
Today's economy has caused many people financial hardship. Whether your hardship is the result of a loss of employment, illness or injury, death of a spouse, divorce, or bankruptcy, hardships can result in derogatory information ending up on your credit report. Unfortunately, derogatory information leads to further hardship as needed credit is denied, future employment is affected and interest rates and insurance premiums go up leaving you in a 'debtor's prison' that seems to have an endless sentence with no right to appeal. While solving credit report and credit repair issues may seem to be a mystery, there are myths and truths you should know and this article addresses them.
Myth # 1: I can pay off my past-due charge-offs and collection accounts and my credit report will show 'paid' and will no longer be a negative strike against my credit score.
While it is difficult to fully repair your credit if you have outstanding past-due accounts, paying off old accounts that will automatically be removed shortly in the future, can harm your credit for a longer period of time. Past due accounts, collections, charge-offs and judgments can stay on your credit report for a maximum of 7 years. Bankruptcies and foreclosures can stay on your credit report for a maximum of 10 years. This length of time is determined from the last date of activity posted on your account. If you have an old collection that was placed on your credit report in 2000, it would automatically be deleted in 2007. However, if you pay off the 'bad' debt in full in 2005, the account will show 'paid', however the account is still reflected as an account that was past due, or a collection and that negative mark will now remain on your credit report until 2012. Therefore, if you have funds to pay off any delinquent accounts or collections, it makes more sense to pay off the recent derogatory accounts as the old accounts will drop off on their own within 7 years of the last posted activity.
Myth # 2: If a negative item is deleted from my credit report, it will just come right back on my report.
In truth, credit bureaus will temporarily delete a negative listing if they have not heard from the creditor within 30 days of an item being disputed. If the creditor submits verification of the account, even after 30 days, the credit bureau can re-insert the negative account back onto your credit report. However, many times the creditor fails to respond and the negative item is deleted permanently. If the creditor does verify the account and it gets put back onto your credit report, it is oftentimes deleted again because the challenge process to fully verify the account is intensified and the creditor no longer pursues the account.
Myth # 3: Items such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, judgments and tax liens are impossible to remove from a credit report.
While it can sometimes be a difficult and time-consuming process to remove these types of accounts, every type of negative listing has been removed from a credit report.
Myth # 4: Disputing a credit report is easy. Any consumer can do it themselves.
While it is easy to dispute accounts on a credit report, getting results can be difficult. Credit reporting agencies are publically traded, profit seeking entities and their time spent investigating consumer disputes cuts into their profits. Therefore, they work harder to hinder your progress to repair your credit than they do to help your progress. There are companies that tell you getting disputes resolved yourself are complex, time-consuming, and frustrating and many of these companies charge high, upfront fees and make false promises about getting all your negative information removed from your credit report. Beware of these companies and their scams. You can get more information about how to repair your credit yourself and credit repair scams that you should be aware of by going to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) website athttp://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre13.shtm.
Myth # 5: The credit bureau allows me to submit a 100-word explanation to tell my side of the story. Creditors read my statement and take it into consideration.
While the credit bureaus do allow you to submit an on-line explanation to dispute an account, the creditor does not necessarily take it into consideration. While credit reporting agencies are supposed to forward the information to the creditor, there is a good chance the creditor will never see your explanation! To file a dispute, send a letter to the credit reporting agency with attached copies of any documentation you have to support your dispute. Be sure to send this letter by certified mail - return receipt requested, so you can document that your information was received by the agency. Additionally, send a letter to the creditor and again, sent the letter by certified mail - return receipt requested so you can document it was received by the creditor. The consumer reporting agency must investigate your dispute within 30 days. They are required to forward your information to the creditor. The creditor must respond and if the investigation proves the information reported to the credit bureau is inaccurate, the creditor must notify the credit reporting agency and they must correct your file.
Myth # 6: The credit bureaus are a government agency and therefore infallible.
Credit reporting agencies, such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are publicly and privately traded companies that are in business to earn a profit for their stockholders. They are not government agencies and are very heavily regulated as a result of public abuse and mistakes. The consumer protection legislation and laws allows consumers to challenge these agencies and can force the removal of inaccurate, outdated, unverified or unverifiable information.
Myth # 7: I can create a totally new credit file by getting a Federal Tax ID number or changing a few numbers on my social security number.
There are credit repair companies out there that let you believe you can obtain a completely new credit file by doing this. Beware! This is a fraudulent scheme! It is a criminal offense to lie on a credit application. If you are caught doing this, you will suffer the consequences.
Myth # 8: If I build enough good credit, it will offset my bad credit and make me creditworthy.
Today, computers compile a point score to determine your creditworthiness. There is no longer a human element that can determine your creditworthiness by your character or current situation. Therefore, any negative credit information can hinder your ability to get future credit. However there are things you can do to help improve your score. First and most importantly, review your credit report for accuracy and dispute any inaccuracies! You are entitled to a free credit report each year. AnnualCreditReport.com is the ONLY authorized source for the free annual credit report that's yours by law. Based on a study done by PIRG (Public Interest Research Groups), 70% of consumer credit reports contain incorrect information, so there is a good chance you may find errors on your report that can be removed. Secondly, strive to bring recent past due accounts current. Remember from Myth 1, the old accounts will be removed automatically after a maximum of 7 years from the date of last activity. Also work to reduce the balances owed on revolving credit accounts to 50% or less of your approved credit limit. Approximately 35% of your credit score is determined by past delinquencies and 30% is determined by your revolving debt ratio (credit limit : balance due). Because past due accounts and Revolving Credit Debt Ratio equal 65% of your total credit score, these are the accounts that you should address first to make the biggest impact on raising your credit score.
Myth # 9: It is illegal for creditors to remove negative accounts on my credit report. The law requires these items stay on the credit report for at least seven (7) years and in the case of bankruptcies, 10 years.
The law states that negative information can appear on your credit report for a maximum of 7 years, 10 years in the case of bankruptcies. Creditors and credit bureaus may choose to delete negative items anytime they see fit, however they cannot let them say on longer than the maximum amount of time.
Myth # 10: Nonprofit organizations like Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) can help me restore my credit.
While these agencies may be non-profit, they still charge for their services. Oftentimes, seeking help from these agencies can prove to be a red flag for creditors and your credit can be treated similarly to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Again, if you seed credit help, beware of the many credit repair scams that are out there. The Credit Repair Organizations Act requires credit repair organizations to give you a copy of the "Consumer Credit File Rights under State and Federal Law" before you sign a contract. They must also give you a written contract that spells out your rights and obligations. Read these documents before you sign anything!! And before signing, know that a credit repair companies cannot do the following:
•make false claims about their services
•charge you until they have completed the promised services
•perform any services until they have your signature on a written contract and have completed a three-day waiting period. During this time, you can cancel the contract without paying any fees.
•Before you sign a contract, be sure it specifies:
•the payment terms for services, including the total cost
•a detailed description of the services the company will perform
•how long it will take to achieve the result
•any guarantees the company offer
•the company's name and business address
Today, nearly 70% of Americans are denied credit because of their credit scores. At Pink Realty we see this all the time, so we understand the credit help that's needed. Our agents work with many people that are trying to buy homes, but just don't qualify because of their credit score. This is why our agents work with several reputable lenders that work with these buyers at NO charge. They help you understand your credit report and your credit score. They will work with you to help you improve your score. So, before you spend your hard earned money on what might be a fraudulent scam, call us. We can put you in touch with the lenders who will work with you to get your credit where it needs to be so you can buy that home you want to buy! You can reach Pink Realty at the contact information below.